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Imi was born and raised in Europe, Hungary. After finishing his school years, he moved to Canada to search for a better life. He lived in Toronto for 13 years and currently resides in Vancouver. He is a romantic at heart with a strong desire to always do the right thing. He would like to give hope to the Chinese and Asian ladies with his story and send a message that love eventually finds everybody.
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Moments of Our Relationship - At Her Father's Home    

By Imi
1369 Views | 5 Comments | 10/11/2016 12:41:33 PM

I took my shirt off. Jeans, too. I wrung all the water from them into the drain in the middle of Janessa's father's bathroom. He seemed to be a nice man,—quiet, just like Janessa had told me earlier—and my kind of person. I marveled at the impression I must have made on him with my wet clothes as I gave them a final wring and hung them on a loose nail that was sticking out of the wall. I used the towel that Janessa's father had given me to dry myself, then I put the damp clothes back on. A few seconds later, I joined Janessa and her father in the living room. They were sitting on a wooden bench and talking when I entered, and for a good half a minute, they didn't even realize I was there.



Janessa's father was a good-looking man with sharp facial features. He was in excellent shape. He was seventy years old, but he unquestionably looked younger. Janessa had told me that her father would climb a nearby mountain every morning. She also had said that he loved history. History was one of my strong subjects in school. However, I did not study Chinese history. But even if I knew anything about Chinese history, how on earth would I have said anything to him without speaking Mandarin?



“Oh, Imi, you're here. Why don't you say so?” asked Janessa, turning around and realizing I was quietly standing behind them.



“I didn't want to disturb you. You two haven't seen each other for a while.”



“You don't disturb us, we are just talking about this typhoon,” Janessa said as her father stood up and motioned with his hand for me to sit down next to Janessa. I thought it was a good sign of his approval of me, and I complied.



Janessa told me all about the typhoon. It was Typhoon Mujigae which had made landfall near Zhanjiang and headed slightly northwest toward Guangxi. Yangchun wasn't its direct path, but the city was still going to receive an ample amount of rain.



“Then, it seems, it's a good thing we're not in Shenzhen or Guilin,” I said.



“Yes, I think so, too. My father also said, a few fishing boats had been gone missing, and a fisherman had already drowned near Hong Kong.”



“My father asks,” Janessa said after her father had said something to her in Chinese, “if you are cold, he could give you a hoody.”



“Tell him thank you, but I'm not cold; only my feet are cold in my sneakers. But you know, baby, in Hungary, if we go to other people's houses, we always take off our shoes out of respect before we enter. I was surprised your father didn't want me to take off my shoes. I thought it was a custom of yours, too.”



“Yes, it's the same in China, but my father doesn't care about that. He's a simple man. He thinks that showing respect by taking off your shoes doesn't really tell anything about you if you don't respect his house otherwise—like with your words or actions. He looks at you as a whole, not just what you are doing with your shoes.”



Janessa's father was reticent and hadn't shown his emotions during the entire time I had been in his home. His face was like a finely carved stone rolling for seventy years in the riverbed of time. He would be a perfect subject for an artist to draw. An old English rhyme started to recite itself in my head about an owl by looking at him:



There was an owl liv'd in an oak.



The more he heard, the less he spoke.

The less he spoke, the more he heard.

O, if men were all like that wise bird.



Janessa told me her father had spent all his life working in a factory, but there was something about that man other than just life-long labor in a dusty factory.



The first thing that I noticed upon my arrival in his living room was an old, wonky bookshelf with full of books—thick ones—ones that really drew people's attention by emitting their old scent of lore through their yellowed pages, like incenses do. Janessa's father had inhaled the scent of those books through all his life, and his presence requested reverence. During the few occasions when he spoke up, he asked me about Canada and Hungary. He seemed to be interested in my family too, but let his other daughter, who barely had the courage to look at me when she had joined us, ask the questions instead of him.



I liked Janessa's father. He had this quiet but strong energy surrounding him all the time, which I wished my father could have possessed in his life. Although Janessa had told me that her father's quiet demeanor was probably because of me. Hadn't I been there, he would in all likelihood have talked to family members in a loud, dominating, and peremptory tone of voice.



“You know, Imi,” Janessa said when we found ourselves alone for a minute in the living room, “I chose you because you're quiet and patient with me. When you speak, you speak in a calm way. I love to hear your voice in audio messages and on the phone before I go to bed. When I don't see your face, your voice sounds different, and I—”



“Hold on for a second!” I interrupted her. “Are you trying to say you prefer to hear my voice in messages and on the phone without seeing my face? Don't you like my voice right now?”



“No, no, it's not like that. I like your voice all the time, but it sounds more soothing and warmer on the phone and messages.”



“Okay. When I talk to you, then, you need to close your eyes even when I'm with you on the streets, at the supermarket, or everywhere else.”



Janessa began to titter. “Imi, you always make me laugh.”



“I'm not kidding,” I said. “I'm serious. If you prefer listening to my voice without seeing my face, then you should close your eyes every time I'm with you. Go ahead, close them!”



“You mean now?” Janessa asked, looking at the grave expression of my face.



“Yes, now.”



Janessa closed her eyes, although the subtle flutters of her eyelids betrayed her heightened awareness of her vulnerable situation. I cleared her cute ear from her hair with my fingers, softly kissed it, and tried to use my smoothest voice to whisper, “Janessa, you're the woman I've been looking for. You're mine now, and no one can take you away from me. I will love you as long as you want me. However, you might have to look at my face from time to time when I speak. I'm sorry.”



“Argh! You're making fun of me,” she said as she opened her eyes.



“I'm sorry, but I couldn't pass up,” I said with a big smile on my face. “Now, you look at me,” I requested Janessa as she lowered her head in annoyance and veiled her face from me with her hair.



“I love you,” I said, gently looking into her eyes after she had faced me.



“I love you, too,” Janessa said. “Very much. You know, Imi, your eyes are usually sad, tired, and sometimes sullen, but when you say 'I love you,' just as now, your eyes are tender.”



“See!? There's your purpose of looking at me when I speak. You will never miss my soft eyes.”



Around 11 a.m. Janessa's younger brother who had worked the night shift the previous night, joined us in the living room. He looked just like his father, in a newer addition—a good-looking, humble young man.



Janessa told me we were going to eat lunch together in a restaurant, and later that afternoon, we would go to Yangjiang to visit her mom.



I was looking forward to meeting her mother. What I didn't realize, right then and there, was that it was going to be a brief meeting.


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(Showing 1 to 5 of 5) 1
#2016-10-11 12:41:10 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Imi, I can't help thinking that your growing up in Hungary, and your own efforts to learn about and immerse yourself in a new and probably wealthier Canadian society than you were accustomed to, was a great beneifit to you in being able to understand and appreciate Janessa's family when you met them. And that, in turn, probably made it easier for them to get to know and appreciate you. Of course your being a serious writer doesn't hurt either.

I think a lot of born and raised Westerners would not have appreciated the wisdom and nobility that you describe in your new Father-In-Law. Nor the humility you saw in Janessa's brother. They may well not even have recognized the simple wisdom and giving heart that you discovered in Janessa.

But they should strive to do just that, because they would get so much more out of their journey, and by that I mean the life journey they hope to make with a Chinese love, not just the period of time they travel to China.

A lot of guys just don't get this, and generally they are the ones that I don't hold out much hope that their newfound love is going to last. The ones who do get it, and who see beyond the treeline, and deep into the cultural forest, who see below the surface down into the clear still water, those are the ones who will grow to appreciate their Chinese life partner, and her family, with an unabiding respect and love. Those are the ones who will find peace, contentment and endless joy in a life shared with an amazing Chinese woman. 

I hope the members who are reading your blogs make an attempt to try to see the huge cultural differences they encounter in China through open, accepting and wise eyes, anxious to learn and refusing to criticize. They will be far better for it, as I am sure you well know. For they will receive in return the respect, admiration and love of the Chinese family they are joining.

Thanks for sharing this with us.

#2016-10-11 15:28:02 by melcyan @melcyan

Imi, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your words about your first meeting with Janessa's family.

 

My first meeting with my partner’s family was to meet her mother. Her father died when she was ten years old.  Due to the language barrier, all words went through my partner. My partner had prepared me for the visit and she had prepared her mother for my visit. Both mama and I passed the introduction test with flying colours but ultimately it was my partner who was the master choreographer of our interactions.

 

My meeting with the rest of the family took place two weeks later. I passed again. After six months or so I had been fully accepted into the family as a respected member. They made me feel like I had been made an honorary Chinese person. My partner put a lot of work into preparing both her family and me for our “bonding”.

 

Imi, I would like to know how much you were “coached” by Janessa or did you enter the meetings with her family without preparation?

 

@JohnAbbot  I hope readers fully appreciate the wisdom of your words.

#2016-10-11 22:30:47 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

Thank you for your comments, John.

The world around us is diverse. Most of the people willing to forget this. When it comes to my trips to China, I always find something to muse about. These are small, everyday things and life events that will give me the simplest feeling that there is: humility.

I enter China's borders as I would enter someone's home. My respect for its people, the land, and its tradition only grows with every single trip. In return, for my respect, China opens up for me. I can see people and places in China that remind me of home; therefore I feel at home.

I feel lucky to be born in a poor family. I have always looked at the world from the bottom. What I have realized in the last few years, and especially after these two so-called "Presidential debates," though, is that the world has turned upside down. The silt and even filth started to get collected close to the surface in rivers and lakes all over the world while the bottoms stayed clear.

I'm glad I still have some humility and dignity left in me to be able to see the world, and most importantly, look into peopels' eyes with pride.     

                       

#2016-10-12 21:54:06 by Imi5922 @Imi5922

@melcyan

 

No, there was no preparation for the meeting. Janessa had only told me the a couple of basics things about her parents. Her father's quiet reticence, and her parents' divorce, that is. Janessa didn't even want me to buy anything for them. But I knew I couldn't go empty handed to visit someone, especially if they were going to be your future in-laws, at his/her home for the first time. I only bought some small things for them, that Janessa named as "sufficient," in Guilin.
Janessa and her family are very simple people. They don't expect big things from their lives, and that suits very well with my upbringing and introverted personality.

#2016-10-12 23:58:02 by anonymous15609 @anonymous15609

when I met my partenr's parents I was told a few things in regards to cultural respect and mostly left to interact with her family using my own judgement, I think this was more the test than the actual meeting of family. I was not introduced to her family on my first trip as I truly believe she needed to be sure of me, my intentions and how she truly felt about me before she would let me meet her family. I am now proudly part of her family, well respected by her family and her Dad and I got along well together instantly. 

You are a forntunate man Imi and I am looking forward to the next entry here.

On a side note: Where is Barry?

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